The Incapable Parent

I would exchange my right arm for my son. My left leg! My heart! My brain! My lungs. My life. In reality, I happily exchange my sanity and grown-up conversation for a little boy who will be four in a few weeks.

I have complex trauma that started from the very beginning, but I was about four when my life came crashing down. As a result, I have some major triggers. Four year olds. Injury. Pain. Fear. Crying. Tantrums. Children bed-sharing in any capacity.

It is a simple task that comes with being a parent. Nightmare, inability to breathe, bloody nose… Whatever the reasons, sometimes four year olds just need to sleep with Mommy and Daddy. Most moms (dads too but this is a mommy’s blog) pull their kids into bed and fall asleep with their mommy arms safely wrapped around the child’s body… The child they grew for nine months and then spent the next year(s) catering to them at any (or all) hours of the night.

So why am I incapable of bed-sharing with my sweet boy? That is a loaded question, yet it is the most simple of needs that I cannot provide for him. It leaves me curled up in a ball in tears.

Someone once told me that I cannot let “this” overtake my life, I have to overcome “it.” I have PTSD, and will probably have it to a varying degree for the rest of my life. It is not my choice to be so triggered. I am doing my very best to not let it affect my parenting. But, it has and it does. I have very little control over this monster in my brain. I do not know how to calm my inner child who is screaming for my son’s safety in the big bed… Even though there are four safe arms wrapped around him.

This inner child is raging to be heard. Until I listen, she will continue to strive to destroy. Even a sweet little boy’s heart who just needs Mommy’s arms wrapped around him.

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10 thoughts on “The Incapable Parent

  1. I feel exactly that with my triggers around my 3 year old nephew. I just don’t want to be that person who came in my life. I don’t want to carry forward what I was made to feel. I am not that person. And I will not. Start your questioning process to get things clearer in your mind. Power to you cus its inside you. The energy to hold you down and power to be free from it. Don’t lose hope!

  2. I have a 5 year old and I have PTSD and major depression. I struggle to have energy to be able to really be present with my kiddo but sometimes I do fall short. However, I remind myself that I LOVE my girl more than anything and I know I am good for her. I keep focused on open expression of feelings and I read lots of parenting books to ensure I’m doing her justice. I may fall short in some areas but I will excel in others. I will ensure I give her the right messages when it counts and above all I will love her intensely and she will never question it.

    My point here is, is that every parent makes mistakes and falls short in some areas but what determines if we are ‘good’ parents, I think is the areas in which we give our children the “right” messages.

    Triggers are only know to us and while they may make it very difficult for us our kiddos don’t see it. When my girl notices me panic or have anxiety or be super hyper vigilant I notice and I try to explain it to her. I tell her that everyone including Mommy and Daddy and even her teacher are all still learning and even though we are adults we still make mistakes and we still feel fear and sadness. But it’s ok because we have learned how to handle those feelings and we know that they come and go. I tell her that most of the time Mommy is very happy and even if I am sad about something it doesn’t mean I don’t love her or that it’s her that makes me sad.

    As long as you focus on the feelings and where they come from and how to handle them in a healthy way then I think you’ll be sending the right message. Or at least, that’s my view on it all,

    PTSD will effect your parenting as it has mine but some ways it is good and others it undoubtedly makes things harder. Your not an incapable parent. Your a parent that loves your child. As you said it yourself you’d give up your life even for him. That’s love. If you can’t share beds with him them realize it’s not due to your inability to comfort your child, nor does it mean your a bad parent. It means quite frankly that you’ve been through trauma that has left you with triggers. Same as me. BUT-you can still give comfort to your child when they need it.

    I often hug my girl and I have to dissociate because it’s a trigger. I had huge guilt over that but I’ve come to realize that she doesn’t know it makes me feel bad. She feels love from my hugs just as she should and I should to. I’m working at it and I know that eventually every trigger will become easier until eventually they fade into nothing.

    Both you and I are very capable parents. Don’t beat yourself up over the little things.

    • It sounds like you are doing a phenomenal job of giving your daughter words to express and understand emotion! I am truly impressed! Take a moment to acknowledge all you are doing for her. Thank you for your encouragement. I am very hard on myself regarding my parenting and have to step back to remember that he is truly a blessed little boy, with a mommy and daddy who love him and put his needs first.

      • Thanks, but like you I too struggle at times with my ability to parent or my ability to accept that I am doing a good-enough job.
        I’m currently reading several parenting/discipline/mindfulness child books.

  3. I don’t have any children, I can’t have children, so I have no idea what to say. I couldn’t even be a Godparent because of all the triggers but everyone tells me your own kids are different. I will just have to take their word. Despite my limited knowledge in this regard I felt deeply for you when I read this. I am betting that despite the fact you have trouble being there for your son in the way you want to be, you are giving him something most of us here didn’t have- a loving parent. In the end I think that is what matters the most. (I hope that conveyed my feelings. I wish I could make it better but all I have are words and most days those feel inadequate. Don’t give up!)

    • Thanks for your encouragement! We have some good days and some not so good. Sometimes he triggers me and sometimes he doesn’t. He’s a sweetheart and I’m blessed to have him

  4. This is part of the reason why I decided to not have children. I am afraid. Too afraid of messing them up. Of being an incapable parent. Of failing them. I just cant do it. Thank you for sharing this. I know it must be very difficult to discuss.

    • Thanks for acknowledging how difficult it is to write about my struggles as a parent. While my children trigger me at times, they overwhelmingly heal my soul. I am blessed to be their mother and pray daily that I meet their needs, because I’m afraid too! Take care, thanks for taking the time to read

  5. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to have children with PTSD. How am I suppose to give my kids the attention they need when I get a trigger. I’m glad you wrote this.

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